Academically, this summer has been a test of wills. I have been transitioning into a position where I am in charge of my own research and academic clock: I am moving away from classes and into working on my dissertation proposal and getting ready for my comprehensive exams. I am hoping to have my exams completed by mid-September, and my proposal done by the end of fall semester. This is a lofty goal.
The past two summers, I have spent my time in St. Mary’s City, Maryland, where I was able to dedicate every moment of the day to my dissertation research. This summer is very different: I have two jobs which take up all my time during the week, and I have started playing in a baseball league, which takes away about three evenings a week. As much as I enjoy all these things, I am finding it difficult to come home, stay away from the television set, and plug away on articles to read, numbers to crunch, and pages to write.
Typically, I have been most productive when I am doing the most amount of things. In the past, however, those things are reliant on someone else’s time table. While at Kalamazoo College, baseball season was always the busiest time: I would attend practices everyday, I would have 4-5 games a week, I would be taking a full load of classes…yet I would preform at a high level in all of them…much better than the other semesters. This was largely due to the fact that I didn’t have time to waste, and my deadlines couldn’t be changed; I wasn’t in charge of setting them. What has been difficult for me now is holding myself accountable for self-imposed deadlines. In the back of my mind I can always tell myself that something doesn’t necessarily need to be done, since I’m the one who made the deadline in the first place. It has been very frustrating for me.
Obviously, this is part of becoming a professional in my field. Self imposed deadlines are going to be a regular part of my life if I become a member of academia. I am hoping that the goals that I have set for myself will be attainable…and I am trying my hardest to create an atmosphere within which I can be successful. I have read a variety of books on managing time, creating schedules, and so on. Some have been helpful, some have not. I have certainly seen things pick up, but I am still not entirely satisfied with my level of output. Meeting these goals I have set for myself will be incredibly rewarding, and, I hope, a testament to some real development.